The Strangest Time Zones in the World

t the land border between what two countries will you experience the largest change in time — 3.5 hours, to be specific? Which one of the largest countries in the world in terms of area uses only one time zone? In at least which six countries in the world is the time zone of the entire country set to the nearest half hour instead of to the nearest hour? At least which one entire country uses a time zone to the nearest quarter hour? Which is the only place in the world which observes Daylight Savings Time by having its clocks advance by only 30 minutes instead of a whole hour? What is so strange about the time zone in which the nation of Kiribati follows? Which country contains the most time zones?

The Strangest Time Zones in the World

The answers to all of these questions and more can be found in this video of the strangest time zones in the world:

…or perhaps some of the answers to those questions are found in this article written by Chloe Pantazi of Thrillist. Regardless, there is at least one fact pertaining to time zones about which these two sources do not agree — regardless of whether they are considered strange or insane.

There are certainly too many anomalies for the aforementioned video or article to cover. For example, crossing the border from Georgia into Alabama in the United States typically means crossing from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central Time Zone. However, if you are driving southbound on Interstate 85, the official road sign which announces the actual crossing into the Central Time Zone is approximately four miles into Alabama due to economic reasons — chiefly, its proximity to West Point in Georgia — which can create confusion as to exactly what time it is in that portion of eastern Alabama.

The Time Zone Mess Known as Indiana

My personal experience with time zones in Indiana — a topic which can fill an entire article unto itself — is that I arrived late in the afternoon at the airport which serves Evansville as a passenger aboard an airplane. I rented a car and drove north on United States Highway 41 to a hotel property in Princeton, where I stayed overnight and ensured of the correct time.

The next morning, I drove further north to Vincennes to a client. I parked the car, confident that I arrived 15 minutes early.

“You are 45 minutes late,” one of the employees with whom I was meeting informed me.

Thinking it was a joke, I laughed.

“She is right,” said another employee.

“But how could that be?!?” I replied, confused and disappointed, as I am usually punctual. “The time at the hotel where I stayed is 15 minutes early. I checked and double-checked the time.”

They started laughing. “We observe Eastern time,” one of the employees explained to me — despite Vincennes technically being in the Central Time Zone in the southwestern part of the state near Illinois. “When you crossed the White River on the way here, you crossed the unofficial time zone.”

What?!?

Summary

Although they started off with an apparent rhyme and reason, time zones can be a rather strange anomaly created by mankind — especially with the countless exceptions which include the implementation of Daylight Saving Time in many locations around the world…

…but one thing is for certain: unless I am visiting a location central to the state such as Indianapolis — I was there in November of 2014 when I gave a review of this delicatessen — I am certainly going to be more careful about what is the actual time in parts of Indiana which I may visit in the future…

7 thoughts on “The Strangest Time Zones in the World”

  1. Last year I moved from TX to FL. As I crossed into Florida and drove to my hotel in Pensacola I kept watching my iPhone expecting it to change and it never did. Then I get to the hotel and find out the Florida panhandle is on Central time. What?

  2. Travel Griz says:

    I agree about Indiana!

    I did my undergrad at Purdue which is in EST but if you drove straight north about 45 minutes it turned into CST. Also tot too long ago Indiana had it’s own timezone. It would be on CST for half the year and EST the other half, essentially not observing daylight savings time. Funny and confusing stuff especially since I lived in Michigan at the time and some of my family was in Indiana.

  3. Joey says:

    Time zones in general never made sense to me as a kid. It is, after all, human made. I wish the world just had one universal time zone so there is never any confusion about time zones or time change, etc.

  4. Erick says:

    I appreciate the Indiana bit! Don’t feel bad for your confusion, it used to be much worse! I grew up in Indiana (in the central part) and we did not even observe day light saving time (like HI and AZ) up till mid-2000s. We had our own timezone: “Indiana Time” which was observed in the bulk of the state, except areas like Evansville and those outside of Chicago, Louisville, and Cincinnati. Indiana Time meant that we were on the same time as Chicago in the summer, but on the same time as New York in the winter. It wad definitely confusing for visitors, though I have to admit I like the idea of not changing my clocks twice a year.

  5. Paul Powers says:

    Wait? So you are upset that you crossed a time zone and didn’t realize it? Sounds like a “you” problem. Times zone lines bisect many states and do not always run straight up and down, often so nearby centers of commerce will be on the same time. Luckily, people near time zones will usually give you a pass.

  6. 02nz says:

    The strangest time zone may actually be China – a country nearly the size of the continental U.S. but using just one time zone (Beijing time). In Urumqi (capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region), many locals actually use an informal “Xinjiang time,” two hours behind Beijing, in everyday life, but airplane/train schedules follow Beijing time. Apparently the matter of whether you use Beijing time or “Xinjiang time” is also related to your ethnicity, with Han Chinese more likely to use Beijing time.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am always learning something new every day, 02nz — and the interesting information you provided is a good example of that.

      Thank you, 02nz.

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